At Durham Nativity School, service learning plays a significant role in developing young men into tomorrow’s community leaders. Every Thursday throughout the year, each grade enters the community to serve, themed around certain issues each year; this service is supported across the curriculum in the classroom.
While “Service Learning” has been become a frequently touted term in education in recent years, in practice such programs can fall away from an integrated education model and become unsupported menial service work. DNS seeks to more fully empower our youth with an integrated and supported service 3-year service learning curricula, emphasizing community involvement, supported across academic disciplines, an awareness of current social justice issues, and the development of young leaders who are able to initiate and plan community projects.
For the Themed Yearly Service Learning Project, each grade spends time in year-long service to a single partner organization or project. Occasional Thursdays will be spent on a Class-Based Service Learning Project on curricular and timely shorter term projects.
- The 6th grade year-long project is “Direct Service” at the Durham Rescue Mission serving homeless men dinner as part of a Victory job-training program.
- In the 7th grade partner project, students are involved in “Indirect Service” by tracing community partnerships while sorting eggs and food at the Durham Food Bank.
- The 8th grade will be involved in “Asset-Based Community Development” (ABCD) by working with Durham City and County Housing departments to renovate houses that have not passed previous inspection for habitation.” Students from Duke University’s Youth Ventures program will assist 8th graders by communicating with city officials to identify appropriate homes for renovation, work under the direction of a local developer/builder, develop a budget, timeline, partners, and proposal to obtain all necessary materials.
This training in a more active and intra-community service model brings the students great and varied leadership skills and provides the Durham Community a regular, yearly, and committed development project.